Coffee Cocktails Gaining in Popularity

hot cocoCertainly there are wine snobs, beer snobs, and coffee snobs. Put them together and witness a growth in coffee cocktails. Irish coffee (with Irish whiskey) or Mexican coffee (substitute Kahlua® or a similar coffee liqueur for the whiskey) simply don’t cut it any longer. Patrons are looking for more creative coffee cocktails and not simply ordering them after dinner. Coffee cocktails are quickly making their way onto brunch and even happy hour menus.

Barista and bartender skills have come together to create some interesting and in-demand libations. According to Imbibe magazine in “Brave New Buzz,” bartenders in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel are substituting Italian vermouth or bitter liqueurs for water to brew a coffee for a cocktail. On both coasts, in Brooklyn and Seattle, some establishments are operating as cafes by day and bars by night, working the day’s micro-roasted coffees into their drink menus and happy hour specials.

Taking Coffee Cocktails to the Next Level

In the East Village in New York, the coffee cocktail is becoming a true art form, thanks to the bartender/barista combo of Sother Teague and Natalie Czech, according to Wine EnthusiastCoffee Cocktails Beyond Baileys.” At their Amor y Amargo, a bitters-focused bar, they identify specific flavors in beans and add amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur, or other spirits to enrich those flavors. According to Czech, a current favorite is Counter Culture’s Kenyan Ndaroini that she describes as citrusy like a tomato or having the flavors of a taco. It doesn’t stop there. Her partner combined it with blanco Tequila or Pacifico beer, added Averna (another Italian liqueur), mole bitters and orange citrate. A refreshing coffee cocktail resulted that’s growing in popularity.

At Houston’s Anvil bar, one of the owners hired the owner of Greenway Coffee Co. to create coffee cocktails for their brunch menu. That menu now includes espresso-laced Occam’s Razor; a coffee cocktail with cachaça (distilled from sugar cane), turbinado (a natural brown sugar), sugar and iced coffee; and a Coffee Old Fashion that combines cold-brew coffee and Demerara rum.

Adding Coffee Cocktails to Your Menu

While you may not go as far as Anvil did in recruiting a true coffee connoisseur to your staff, with growing popularity of coffee cocktails, it makes sense to add a few to your menu. Consider these two fromCoffee Cocktails Beyond Baileys”:

Cafe con Alma

Recipe courtesy Nick Crutchfield, bartender, Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar, Charlottesville, Virginia

  • 1 ounce La Puritita Verdá mezcal
  • ½ ounce brown sugar simple syrup
  • ¼ ounce Green Chartreuse
  • ¾ ounce Zucca Amaro
  • 3 ounces hot dark roast black coffee

Whipped cream, grated orange zest and Sal de Guisano (optional), for garnish.

Mix the ingredients together in a mug. Top with freshly whipped non-sweetened cream and grated orange zest. Dust with Sal de Guisano.

Christiansted Cannons

Recipe courtesy Jesse Card, bartender, Raven & Rose, Portland, Oregon

“The cannons of Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted, St. Croix have diligently stood watch since the 1700s,” says Card. “I figured they could use a caffeinated pick-me-up to stand watch a little longer. Our Spella Cold Drip Coffee is a unique roast only for Raven & Rose.”

  • 2 ounces Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
  • 1 ounce Spella Cold Drip Coffee
  • ½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Vanilla Syrup
  • 2 ounces Bundaberg Root Beer

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the rum, coffee and vanilla syrup and shake for 12 seconds. Double strain the drink into a Collins glass over crushed ice. Top with Root beer.

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